As you should all now be aware from previous emails, as CEO of Wessex County Council I wish to inform you that we are expecting a reduction in pay across our organisation. We’re all aware of the current economic climate and how it is impacting business everywhere, and unfortunately we couldn’t avoid being affected. To ensure this decision was made with careful thought and consideration, your staff representatives and I discussed several possible solutions before reaching a final decision - our main focus is to avoid forced redundancies and work together towards our long-term aims without the loss of jobs. Therefore, in order to avoid conflict and maintain stability for all staff as well as meet our budget demands, some sacrifices will have to be made. Starting from next week, I’ll be arranging meetings with each department to discuss the change in payroll and how it will affect you individually. There will be specific information emailed to all department managers, which you’ll be able to feedback to your subordinates as soon as all details are released. I will provide exact figures of the reductions as soon as I can, but if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via phone or email. I understand this is a difficult time but I hope we can continue to work together as a team, motivating one another and giving each other support. As long as we have a positive attitude, we can maintain a strong and stable work environment.
A Chief Executive (CEO) statement is one of many forms of communication used within organisations. However, there are many features of it that can be analysed by a variety of theories and models to determine whether or not it is effective in getting its message across and what reactions can arise as a consequence of the message’s level of success. The statement’s content is very concise, clearly informing its audience of the reductions in payroll, and although it does not disclose specific figures it does tell readers when and where to access this information in the near future. It is a strong example of good communication because the CEO is successfully getting his message across to his audience; therefore his message can then be processed and understood by employees. This relates to a particularly influential model of communication, constructed by Shannon and Weaver in 1949, which states that good communication is achieved when the receiver clearly understands the sender’s message (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010). However it can be argued that this model is quite limited because there is no opportunity for feedback and it implies that the receiver is passive - a more comprehensive model of communication comes from Schramm’s Communication Process model in 1954, demonstrating that when a message is transmitted, it is then possible for the receiver to decode and understand it fully, before then acting upon it and responding to the original sender (Gregory, 2000). This communication theory model can be related positively to the CEO statement because it clearly gives readers the chance to feedback through a variety of channels. It is also important to consider which channel is most appropriate for the message: using an Intranet post as the chosen channel to send the CEO’s message is suitable for the topic because it specifically targets all members of its audience but maintains confidentiality within the organisation as members would be the only people able to access it. It also allows opportunities for individual feedback “via phone or email” as well as group discussions in the future meetings. Another positive factor of posting information on an Intranet page is that it will be fairly safe from being affected by physical noise, as the information is available at any time once it has been written. On the other hand, if the statement was to be announced in person the audience could be affected by noise surrounding them or be distracted by thoughts; therefore the communication could be interrupted. However, it can be argued that even if communication is clearly understood, it can still have a negative effect on members of an organisation if the organisation’s structure is unstable. Poor organisational structures can suffer from difficulties with monitoring behaviour, poor communication between members, and a lack of organisation. In terms of Wessex County Council, the organisation needs to be structured in a way that all employees, including both managers and subordinates, can access the required information from the CEO. To describe an organisational structure with many layers of employees, a pyramidal hierarchy is a good example to use: workers such as sales assistants would be at the bottom, followed by supervisors, managers, area managers, then at the top would be the top level of management (e.g. the CEO). However, while authority is clear and there are good opportunities for promotion, communication from top to bottom is generally very slow and decisions made tend to only benefit departments rather than the whole organisation. Therefore, if the structure of Wessex County Council was pyramidal, when subordinates attempt to access the information from their managers the information could end up being misconstrued and feedback would not be responded to quickly enough. On the other hand, ‘Tall’ and ‘Flat’ hierarchies of authority are useful in distinguishing the differences between how small and large organisations work - for example, large organisations such as the Roman Catholic Church have several levels of authority, therefore those in authoritative positions have smaller spans of control over their subordinates. On the other hand, smaller organisations such as universities and local businesses use a ‘Flat’ hierarchy system which only have one level of authoritative members, therefore many subordinates are controlled by them individually (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010). It could be argued that the most effective structure for Wessex County Council would be a ‘Flat’ hierarchy because subordinates will be able to report to one manager to access the required information, which that manager will have gained directly from the CEO. By stating that “specific information will be emailed to all department managers which you will be able to feedback to your subordinates” the CEO statement is saying that
the best way to communicate the information is to enable a large span of control over members so that all information can be accessed quickly and easily. Another vital part of a working organisation is the maintenance of member motivation but when organisations experience a crisis, morale can be very badly affected. When being informed that pay will be reduced and that there is a possibility of redundancies, the first reaction of employees would typically be to lose their motivation because their hard work could all have been for nothing. This loss must be avoided, as it has been found that humans have innate needs to survive and, according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, job security is important for our ‘safety’ needs (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010). However, the CEO statement encourages a “positive attitude” and keeps referring back to the idea that they should “continue to work together as a team” throughout the statement, therefore it is attempting to keep employees motivated. Self-Actualisation, the highest point on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, can also be related to the statement: if employees feel that the reduction in pay means that their full potential is not being appreciated, this can be severely damaging to their self-esteem and therefore their motivation towards work. It is necessary to remind employees that their commitment and efforts towards the organisation are recognised and should stay intact, even throughout this difficult period, and this is reflected well in the statement through saying that everyone should carry on “motivating one another and giving each other support”.
References: • Buchanan, D.A. and A.A. Huczynski, 2010. Organizational Behaviour. 7th ed. Essex, England: Pearson Education Ltd. • Butterick, K., 2011. Introducing Public Relations Theory and Practice. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. • Gregory, A., 2000. Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns. 2nd ed. London: Kogan Page Limited.